What is admission?
The admission and enrolment of barristers and solicitors in New Zealand is governed by Part 3 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 (LCA) and the Admission Rules made under the Act. People without current practising certificates cannot describe themselves as lawyers under the LCA.
Most people get admitted shortly after completing Profs. However, there is no set timeframe for when a person must be admitted. The New Zealand Council of Legal Education may direct you to undertake further study if your qualification for admission (law degree) is more than 10 years old when applying for admission. The 10 year restriction is from the start of your qualification.
How do you apply?
In order to apply to be a barrister and solicitor of the High Court, you must do the following:
1. Complete an LLB
Applicants must have completed a Bachelor of Laws Degree (LLB) approved by the New Zealand Council of Legal Education (NZCLE). All New Zealand universities that offer an LLB are approved.
2. Complete Profs
3. Obtain a Certificate of Completion
Once you have completed Profs and received your completion certificate, you need to apply to NZCLE for a Certificate of Completion. It can take 6 to 8 weeks for NZCLE to issue the certificate.
The application requires:
an application form found on the NZCLE website
payment of the application fee
certified copy of your academic transcript
certified copy of evidence of completion of Legal Ethics if not shown on the transcript
certified copy of evidence of LLB Degree if not shown on the transcript
certified copy of evidence of completion of Profs
certified copy of your birth certificate or passport
4. Obtain a Certificate of Character
Alongside the application for the Certificate of Completion, you will need to apply to your local branch of the New Zealand Law Society (NZLS) for a Certificate of Character. You can find contact details for the Wellington branch here.
A Certificate of Character is valid for 3 months from the date of issue and must be valid on the date of admission (not the date the application is filed). The processing of Certificates of Character takes some time and is calculated to ensure that your Certificate of Character is still valid at the time of admission.
The application requires:
an application form found on the NZLS website, which includes providing a comprehensive list of your employment and academic history, and a fit and proper person assessment
payment of the application fee
certified copy of passport or driver's license
character references (see info on references below)
criminal conviction history check
if you have declared any mental or physical health conditions that may affect your ability to carry out the functions required to practice law, you will need to include a medical report from your health professional/specialist
When you apply for a certificate of character, the Law Society will advertise your name in the media at its discretion. Any person wishing to comment on your conduct and fitness may do so directly to the branch within the time specified.
Each referee will need to fill out a referee report which is available on the NZLS website. You must arrange for referees to send original references to NZLS. You will need the following references:
Your current employer, or, if unemployed, your most recent former employer.
Any other employer you have had in the past 12 months
Two preferred referees (someone who works in a profession that requires a criminal conviction check, is subject to regulated professional standards, in a role respected in their community and knows you in a personal capacity)
* Please note if you have been employed for less than 12 months or are not currently employed you must provide three preferred referees.
5. Apply to the High Court
Roughly a month before your admission date, you will have to file your application with the High Court. The application involved submitting an LA1 Form and LA2 Form (which can be found on the NZLS website). The LA1 Form is to be signed by your moving counsel. You must swear or affirm the LA2 Form. Your certificate of completion and certificate of character will need to be attached to your LA2 Form.
When you file your documents at the High Court you will also be asked to choose your admission time. After your admission, you will need to go back to the High Court to file your sealed order for admission (LA5 Form).
Your moving counsel is the person who asks the judge to admit you as a barrister and solicitor of the High Court. Moving counsel must hold a current practising certificate. If you wish to be moved by someone without a practising certificate it is possible for retired legal practitioners to apply for a temporary practising certificate.
What happens at your admission?
The format of the ceremony will vary according to the location and also the number of people being admitted.
When your ceremony is called, moving counsel will take a seat in the courtroom whilst candidates line up outside. Each candidate is called into the courtroom one by one. When your name is called you will enter the courtroom and stand in a designated place. Your moving counsel will "move" that you be admitted. Once all candidates have been moved you will take an oath or affirmation and the Judge will order that you be admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor. To finish off, the Judge will address the newly admitted lawyers.
The newly admitted lawyers must sign the roll. The Registrar will give directions on how and where this is to be done. The order for admission (LA5) can be filled anytime after the ceremony during working hours. At least three copies must be brought to seal.
Te Reo Māori
Candidates have the option of conducting their ceremony in Te Reo Māori. You will need to inform the High Court Registrar when you file you application that you wish to conduct your ceremony in Te Reo Māori.
Candidates for admission and their moving counsel have the option of wearing traditional court attire (wigs, bands, white shirt and gowns ) or gowns over neat clothing. There is no requirement to wear a wig. Candidates and moving counsel may not combine the two options by, for example, wearing a wig and a tie, or bands over a tie.
There are usually three admissions held in Wellington throughout the year. All admission dates can be found here: https://www.lawsociety.org.nz/starting-as-a-lawyer/joining-the-legal-profession/admission/admission-dates/